Before the wind hits

I enjoyed the frailty of the blossoms with the sturdiness of the trunk and branches. For a few, brief days, we are blessed with this display of beauty.

We always wish the blossoms would last longer. They are a brief, shining, stunning moment that fades all too quickly.

Enjoy the last bits of loveliness before the wind hits… and ponder, if you will, how much of what we call “life” is far too quick to fade before our eyes.


You say Goodbye… I say Hello

Almost three years ago, I walked into this office. Friday afternoon, I put the last paperclip, pen, and stapler into office relocation bins. I was a little teary, and it surprised me.

I scolded myself. “Really. This is no big deal.” And yet, it is.

The office movers arrive on Saturday, and on Monday morning, I’ll walk into a new building and new office suite. Everything will be different, from where we find coffee to what our building security access cards look like.

I’m mentally prepared for the chaos of an inter-office move. (I’m planning on chaos, anyway. It means that anything less than that will be encouraging.) I know I won’t have a desk or even a shared workstation to call my own and will be “homeless.” It’s a bit disconcerting. I am not looking forward to it. (Yes – there will be places I can sit down with my laptop… but it’s not the same.) My expectation is that it will take a lot of patience and adjusting to find this “new normal.”

I’ve thought a lot about our expectations in life, generally speaking. Sometimes they are motivating. Sometimes they are devastating to our morale. And sometimes, things go far better than we could dream! With my hospice patients and families, we often reflect on “the new normal” and the “chaos” of enrolling someone in hospice. It takes a while to get your sea legs again!

I’ve spent many hours helping people manage their expectations for their family member’s illnesses. Over and over, I will say, “we just don’t know how long…” And to the extent I can, I try to help folks find appreciation in the moments they have now on the road of loss and change…

Yep. A life lesson. Hits pretty close right now…

Wherever I travel next, I want to pack light and walk gently… and enjoy the gifts of today. And I’ll pay attention to the memories and feelings that they evoke.

Frederick Buechner said, “Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention.”

Yes. Yes indeed. These teary moments have great meaning.

Bad to the Core

20140714-151825-55105828.jpgI had a favorite pair of brown pumps. They were that lovely versatile kind of shoe that every female chaplain loves: they have good arch support for all those hours on your feet, they don’t need a lot of polishing, and they had a high enough heel to look dressy, but low enough that I didn’t kill myself walking in them. I could run and catch an elevator in them, or stand behind the pulpit in confidence.

And today, they died.

I took them to the repair shop not long ago and had them re-do the heels. The shoemaker looked them over and shook his head, “I will try,” he said, “but they have no core left. The heel will come off.” To me, it was worth trying to salvage them, so I paid the fee (a whole $5!) to get them fixed.

Today, the heel came off of one shoe, leaving the core and the lovely new heel pad on the cement. I was catching a train to downtown, so I sucked it up. I limped my way around the Metro, met up with a fellow chaplain, and limped home. The shoes were tossed in the trash on my way in the door. I knew better than to go back to the shoe shop. He was right… They had no core. They had no way to support the wear and tear of walking (or running) and the stress made them come apart under my feet.

The shoes looked lovely on the shelf. They had worn well for the time I had them, with very little in the way of scuff marks or wearing. But there was nothing internal to help them deal with the pressures of the external.

It seemed to me, as I sadly pitched my shoes, that it was a great metaphor for life, for coping, for dealing with all those unexpected crises that could trip you up. Without a “core” to bear the pressure and the stress, we fall apart. Is it any wonder that I limp so much?

I’m going to keep remembering to put my hopes on the One who hears, holds, and empowers me.

Thanks be to God.